Schneider v. Am. Car Wash, Inc., Case No. CPU4-20-003550

CourtCourt of Common Pleas of Delaware
Writing for the CourtThe Honorable Carl C. Danberg Judge
PartiesBONNIE SCHNEIDER, Plaintiff, v. AMERICAN CAR WASH, INC., Defendant.
Decision Date11 March 2021
Docket NumberCase No. CPU4-20-003550

BONNIE SCHNEIDER, Plaintiff,
v.
AMERICAN CAR WASH, INC., Defendant.

Case No. CPU4-20-003550

COURT OF COMMON PLEAS FOR THE STATE OF DELAWARE IN AND FOR NEW CASTLE COUNTY

Submitted: February 22, 2021
March 11, 2021


Bonnie Schneider
151 SE 1st Street, Unit 2406
Miami, FL 33131

James H. Edwards, Esquire
331 Springhouse Lane
Hockessin, DE 19707

LETTER OPINION ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS

PROCEDURAL HISTORY AND FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Bonnie Schneider ("Schneider") filed this Justice of the Peace Court appeal against American Car wash, Inc. ("American") after a final decision of the Justice of the Peace Court on December 1, 2020. On Appeal, Schneider alleges the following facts.

In December 2018, American, by way of consignment, took possession of a 2006 Jeep Commander ("Jeep"). In June of 2018, American sold the Jeep to a Ms. Elliott. Sometime after the purchase, Ms. Elliott became dissatisfied with the Jeep and returned the Jeep to American. American took possession of the Jeep but failed to remove the temporary plate issued to Ms. Elliott. American then sold the Jeep to a Mr. Sutton. After the sale of the Jeep, American continued to

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possess the Jeep because Mr. Sutton could not provide proof of insurance. Thereafter, American did not comply with the state law that requires a bill of sale to be completed and retained prior to the sale of the Jeep. Instead, American gave Mr. Sutton a key to the Jeep.

In July of 2018, Mr. Sutton, or someone else, drove the vehicle into Schneider's Cadillac Escalade in Miami, Florida. The driver of the Jeep fled the scene. The Jeep was still registered to Ms. Elliott and no insurance existed on the Jeep. Shortly after the accident, Mr. Sutton called American's sales agent and informed him that the Jeep had been in an accident.

Schneider argues that American has breached its duty of care by providing the keys to the Jeep to Mr. Sutton. Schneider seeks $15,522.19 for the damages sustained to her car, court cost and interest.

On December 16, 2020, Schneider filed her appeal with this Court. Simultaneously Schneider filed her notice of appeal with the Justice of the Peace Court.1 On January 6, 2021, American filed a Motion to Dismiss. In its motion, American argues that this Court does not have jurisdiction over this matter because Schneider failed to file a notice of appeal with the Justice of the Peace Court pursuant to the Court of Common Pleas Civil Rule 72.3(e).

On February 22, 2021, this court held a motion hearing on American's motion to dismiss. At the conclusion of the hearing, this Court reserved decision in this matter. On February 24, 2021, American submitted a supplemental letter to this Court explaining that it could not find that Schneider timely filed her notice of appeal with the Justice of the Peace Court. This is the Court's final decision on American's motion to dismiss.

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DISCUSSION

American argues that Schneider failed to comply with the Court of Common Pleas Civil Rule 72.3(e) which required Schneider to file notice with the Justice of the Peace Court within 10-days of filing an appeal with this Court. As Schneider's notice of appeal is time stamped on the same date as her appeal with this Court—December 16, 2020—this Court finds that Schneider's notice of appeal meets the requirement of Rule 72.3(e). Schneider's timely filing of her notice of appeal with the Justice of the Peace Court is evident in the Justice of the Peace Court's docket entry on February 17, 2021.

Therefore, this Court disagrees with American's assertion and American's motion to dismiss should be denied; however, even if Schneider failed to meet the filing requirement of Rule 72.3(e), American's motion should still be denied because this Court finds that Rule 72.3(e) is not jurisdictional and therefore does not bar Schneider's appeal.

Jurisdiction of this Court on appeals from the Justice of the Peace Court is governed by 10 Del. C. § 9571.2 Subsection (a) provides for appeals as of right to the Court of Common Pleas from any final judgment of the Justice of the Peace.3 Subsection (b) provides that the appeal shall be taken within fifteen (15) days of the final judgment. Moreover, subsection (d) provides that "[t]he Court of Common Pleas shall establish appeal procedures . . . ."4 Court of Common Pleas Civil Rule 72.3(e) states,

[r]ecord; stay, -- The appellant shall, within 10 calendar days, file a notice of appeal with the Justice of the Peace Court to stay the record. The record on appeal shall constitute the record below as of the time of the filing of the notice of appeal. There shall be no stay of execution or other proceedings below unless ordered by this Court pursuant to Rule 62(c).5

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In Deysher v. Mid-Atlantic Systems of DPN, Inc.6 this Court determined Rule...

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